From the Mouths of Babes

by Tina Blue
December 28, 2000

          My daughter Becky was astonishingly verbal at a very early age. By the time she was eighteen months old, she spoke better than most five-year-olds. What's neat about such early talkers is that their conversation allows us a glimpse into how the world looks to someone who is brand-new in it. They really do see things differently, and some of the connections they draw are surprising.

          I ran a home daycare for eighteen years, so that I could stay home and be the one to raise my own children. Because my kids were always around other children who called me "Tina," sometimes they would slip and call me "Tina," too. Whenever that happened, I would say, "No, no. I'm not your 'Tina,' I'm your mommy."

    Conversely, whenever one of the daycare kids would slip and call me "Mommy," I'd say, "No, no. I am not your mommy, I am your 'Tina.' (Maybe that's why they often referred to me as "my Tina" or "our Tina.")

          When Becky was two and a half, I had in my daycare the three-year-old son of my good friend Jeannie. Matt often called his mother by her first name, but Jeannie didn't mind at all, so she never corrected him when he did. Over time, he began to refer to her more often as "Jeannie" than as "Mommy."

          Becky was not at all comfortable with this habit of Matt's. Whenever he called his mother by her first name, Becky would furrow her brow and give him a troubled look. You could tell she wanted to say something, but was keeping her own counsel.

     One day, Matt asked me, "Tina, when will Jeannie come home?"

          Becky could hold back no longer. "Matt," she said, obviously exasperated, "why do you call your mommy 'Jeannie'? She doesn't have a daycare!"
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